The Pros and Cons of Featured Snippets


  • Featured snippets are summaries extracted from web pages designed to answer user queries.
  • Featured snippets can improve search rankings when combined with other forms of search optimization, but they aren’t right for everyone.
  • Most featured snippets don’t have high CTRs. Instead, they are simply taking click-share away from the top ranking results.
  • If you decide featured snippets aren’t for you, you can opt out of them by adding a tag to your web pages.

For decades marketers have focused on creating quality content that resonates with any audience willing to listen, and in the age of digital, that statement could not be truer.

What are Featured Snippets?

Featured snippets are summaries extracted from web pages designed to answer user queries. Typically there is a link, page title, and URL displayed along with the featured snippet. Featured snippets started showing up around 2015 when voice search was gaining popularity. What’s cool about Featured Snippets is that they live at the top of SERPs (search engine results pages) and are very user, and voice search friendly.

Here is an example of a featured snippet for the query “what is a featured snippet”:

As you can see, it answers the question clearly and concisely.

How Do Featured Snippets Work?

Featured snippets are programmatically extracted when Google recognizes that a webpage answers a user’s question; that said, they are specially designed to draw our attention to the search result and not the webpage itself.

Pro tip: If you decide featured snippets aren’t for you, you can opt out of them by using the following tag on your pages <meta name=“googlebot content=“no snippet”>

Pros of Featured Snippets

Featured snippets can improve search rankings when combined with other forms of search optimization. Featured snippets also improve user experience for those users who typically search the web to find answers to their questions. If your website relies on an up-sell though ‘freemium’ content, then featured snippets might be a good way to get readers interested in what you have to say prompting them, by way of curiosity, to click into your website.

Weight loss guides and fitness articles are two examples of content types that love to offer ‘freemium’ content knowing that if they provide the right call to action within the content itself a user may convert. Another pro of the featured snippet is that a web page can rank for numerous queries allowing a brand to gain more search impressions than competitors.

Cons of Featured Snippets

A recent study by Ahrefs concluded that out of 112 million queries only 12.3% had a featured snippet. They also concluded that featured snippets had a lower click-through rate compared to non-featured snippet results. So even though a site is being rewarded a featured snippet doesn’t mean that they are gaining a leg up on the competition. Instead, they are simply taking click-share away from the top ranking results.

While lower CTR may not always be the case with featured snippets we must step back and realize what the goal of a featured snippet is: to provide users with instant answers to their questions. Look at it this way. Why would you click through to a web page if it already gave you the answer you were looking for?

Chances are you are pressed for time and on a mobile device that isn’t quick to load a page. Key takeaway: if you create a page that ranks for a featured snippet don’t expect it to be a page of high conversion because there are other ways to drive engagement.

Who Benefits from Featured Snippets?

Sites like Wikipedia.com, Wikihow.com, and Allrecipes.com commonly rank for featured snippets due to the highly informative nature of their content. As we mentioned earlier if your brand incentivizes users by way of “freemium” content, this may be a great way to leverage your content into top of the funnel content. Give something away for free to earn trust but don’t give away everything. Create a C.T.A. below the fold to see if you can drive users down the funnel before they bounce.

Types of Featured Snippets

There are three types of featured snippets:

  • Table format: Answers displayed in a table format
  • List format: Answers displayed in a list format
  • Paragraph format: Answers displayed in a paragraph format

How to Leverage Featured Snippets

If you really wish to leverage featured snippets for your website make sure of the following:

  • Content is informative and up-to-date
  • Content is written in a Q&A style format
  • Content matches a Featured Snippet format (table, list, paragraph)

Another way to leverage featured snippets is to look at your top 10 search results to see if you can provide a better answer than your competition. Next step: write a more in-depth piece and structure your content in one of the featured snippet formats mentioned above. The search landscape is ever evolving and so we must always think of end users and how we can provide the best experience through informative content.

Do you have additional questions about how Google algorithms work and how sites rank for specific queries? If so get in touch with us to see how RMG can help your brand grow.

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